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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Corona and Our (Former) Maid

How odd that Chief Justice Corona's own statements should remind me of a parallel situation he is now facing with something that happened decades ago.

The telenovela. In a legal format.
(Courtesy of

Recall that during Corona's lengthy three hour "opening statement" where he walked out of the trial - no, there is no doubt that he walked out, unless you were watching something else when it happened - one of his emotional appeals to the masa (masses) was that they don't employ maids, as proof of how "simple" they live as a family, and that he wasn't used to an extravagant lifestyle.

The situation that parallels his happened ages ago.

I would like to categorically state that I do not have maids. This occurred in my parents' house, where they did employ household help. We had a cook, and at least two other helpers to do various chores around the house.

Most of our maids were from the Visayas region (as both my parents are also) and there seemed to be an informal, revolving door system of maids coming through our house, as some of them would get pregnant, or would be homesick, or just earned enough for a certain amount then would move on to something else. In short, they were temporary in tenure (some extremely so).

One particular employee was distrusted by my mom from the very beginning. She had reservations hiring her, but the person who we can loosely call the recruitment head assured my mom that she is a hard worker and so my mom relented. She also felt that by hiring them, she was somehow nakakatulong (being helpful) so they could send money back to the provinces to help their families as well.

True enough, my mom's instincts were right: Inday (a somewhat generic term for female household help) was tasked with cleaning the rooms, and she was able to go in and out the bedrooms freely. It was during these trips that she was able to pocket some money my parents left on their drawers, toiletry/perfume products, and even a piece of jewelry (I think it was a gold bangle).

My mom asked the barangay  (village) officials into our house to settle the matter (and of course, to terminate the services of Inday). They were confronted in the presence of many people so there would be witnesses. My mom was enumerating the things that she knew were missing, and Inday issued a denial after each claim. Exasperated, she went to retrieve her empty jewelry box and showed it to everyone.

My mom asked the official what she needed to do to place Inday in jail for the theft of her jewelry. This was the point that Inday changed her tune, with a sudden rush of defiance.

"Teka lang, teka lang! Wala akong kinukuha diyan sa lagayan na yan! Inaamin ko, yung pera dun sa drawer ni Sir, pati yung mga pabango, oo, ako kumuha nun, pero yung mga alahas, di ko yan ginalaw! Mamatay ako ngayon!"

("Wait a minute, wait a minute! I didn't get anything from that container! I admit, the money from Sir's drawer, and the perfumes, yes, I got those, but I never touched the jewelry! May I be struck dead now!")

My mom replied "so inamin mo rin na magnanakaw ka?" ("You admit being a thief?")

"Sa pera at pabango, oo, pero hindi ko kunuha yung alahas!" ("With the money and perfumes, yes, but I never touched the jewelry!")

And now, recall how Corona initially denied he had any dollar accounts. It was only when Ombudsman Carpio traced the AMLA report saying he had transactional balances of between $10-$12 million - an actual amount was given - that he was forced to say that he had only $2 point something million in his dollar accounts. (Actually, the initial revelation for this came from the PS Bank President who said in court that Corona has 5 dollar accounts with them. That was, of course, how the TRO against revealing their contents came into being, and in such haste.)

Corona is, in effect, admitting that he lied.

His insistence on highlighting the actual amount of the dollar accounts is missing the forest for the trees. He has proclaimed to one and all that he has no dollar accounts at the beginning of all this, and he is now saying that "it's not so bad, I only have $2 Million, and not $10, $11 or $12 Million, like what the Ombudsman said".

There is no difference with my mom's maid, who admitted that she stole.

Her insistence on highlighting the actual items stolen is also choosing to highlight a technical aspect against a substantive one: to say that "I only stole the money and perfumes, I didn't touch the jewelry, please, let's be clear on this!" does not negate the fact that she was a thief, and that she stole.

The consequence for the helper was that she was terminated, and recorded by the police as a thief. My mom didn't decide to push through with trying to have her incarcerated, naawa sya (she felt pity) knowing no bail will be posted by her family.

Are we willing to live with the consequences of having the Chief Justice of our entire country acting so blase and nonchalant about something so integral to one's character as telling the truth? That his defense for lying to our faces with a straight eye was "it wasn't that big an amount, it's much smaller"?

We cannot live with those consequences, unless we are willing to accept that truth, justice and honesty are essentially useless concepts that have no place in our judicial systems, where specific legal technicalities and loopholes are being utilized to thwart these very same things, ideas that we tell the younger generation are what our forebears fought for valiantly and must strive to uphold in our daily lives on an individual basis.

We can't live with those consequences. We shouldn't. We won't.


  1. He didn't do the stealing from the government, that is very, very true!!! A lot of those Money was given to him for loyalty, and who wouldn't grab the chance of receiving an unknown donation, when there is a note of confidentiality and a signed waiver not to identify the donor,in the sealed envelope! But the million dollar question is who is the donor!!!

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